SHE WALKED THROUGH A CLOSED GATE
TCATHERINEMAXWELL-STUART,44, wasbornat900-year-oldTraquairHouse, Innerleithen,Peeblesshire,andlives therewithherbarristerhusbandMark, 44,andchildrenIsabella,11,Louis, eight,andCharlotte,six.Shesays:
HIS house was a royal hunting lodge for the kings and queens of Scotland and later a defence tower against English invasion. It has been lived in as a family home for more than 500 years by my family, the Stuarts.
It has no real history of violence but I have always felt there are lots of benevolent presences.
Back in the Twenties we had a young farmhand called Andrew Brown working on the estate. He lived here all his life and was very down to earth and honest, so the family always believed what he told us.
He’d been working in the joiner’s shop when he became aware of the sound of someone walking outside. Going to the door he saw a woman approaching, dressed in the style of the previous century.
Andrew watched in amazement as she walked straight through the little gate – without stopping to open it – and into the joiner’s shop, then through the gate on the other side and across the old avenue leading up to the house. He was really unnerved by it. Determined to get to the bottom of his strange encounter, he contacted a friend whose grandmother had been a dressmaker to Lady Louisa Stuart, sister to the last Earl of Traquair.
Samples of material she had used to make clothes for Lady Louisa had been passed to her granddaughter and, looking through them, Andrew found the very material of the dress worn by the mysterious lady that he had seen.
From the descendant of one of her gardeners, he also discovered the old lady’s regular walk had been around the avenue before the joiner’s shop had been built. Why she visited Andrew Brown, though, remains an unsolved mystery.
Most people who come here feel relaxed rather than frightened, except for my children’s friends who are absolutely terrified by the thought of ghosts. They have great children’s parties here because we have a secret stairway where the priests used to hide, and they conjure up their own ghosts.
This weekend we are open for our Hallowe’en ghost tours. We’ve got a treasure trail, ghost stories, owls and a spooky passage experience!